SUVA, Fiji, February, 12, 2013 – United States Ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu, Frankie A. Reed, Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Works, Transport and Public Utilities, Commander Francis Kean and University of the South Pacific (USP) Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra, today led the inaugural event for a training program supported by the U.S. Government that will promote clean energy in the Pacific Islands.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the Arizona State University (ASU), is implementing the Vocational Training and Education for Clean Energy (VOCTEC) Program to help improve the sustainability of renewable energy investments and infrastructure in the Pacific region by increasing local awareness, knowledge and capacity in clean energy.
“We are pleased to support this important program which will harness U.S. expertise to help Pacific Island nations sustain solar energy investments and make them accessible and useful to communities in the region,” said Ambassador Reed in her opening remarks.
VOCTEC, in partnership with USP, is implementing a two-year solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity-building program customized for the Pacific Islands to support the sustainability of off-grid solar energy installations and help in the reduction of carbon emissions. Solar PV panels are widespread throughout the Pacific region and are the most appropriate technology to replace dependence on imported petroleum products.
Fifteen participants, including three women, from Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands are expected to finish the two-week training for instructors on February 15. The training focuses on the design, installation, operation and maintenance of stand-alone solar PV power systems. Ambassador Reed, PS Francis Kean and Vice Chancellor Chandra visited the VOCTEC training hub at USP and talked with participants before the start of the inaugural event.
Aside from setting up its training hub at USP, VOCTEC will also establish training programs in collaboration with universities and technical and vocational education institutions throughout the region.ASU’s engineering faculty members, headed by Dr. G. Tamizhmani, a industry leader in the solar VP field, developed the training materials and syllabus.
“ASU is pleased to support the advancement of clean energy in the Pacific Islands,” said Anshuman Razdan, professor and associate dean at ASU’s College of Technology and Innovation. “With the support of USAID and USP, we can help build local capacity that will strengthen the sustainability of renewable energy investments in the Pacific Islands.”